A recent study led by the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), explores the potential of personalized health and lifestyle coach in reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The Systematic Multi-Domain Alzheimer Risk Reduction Trial (SMARRT) reveals promising results, suggesting that cognitive coaching could be a key factor in improving cognitive scores, enhancing quality of life, and lowering dementia risk.
Study To Understand The Importance Of Lifestyle Coach
The SMARRT study, conducted from August 2018 to August 2022 and analyzed from October 2022 to September 2023, involved 172 older adults aged 70 to 89 with a high risk of dementia.
These participants, exhibiting at least two of eight dementia risk factors, were divided into two groups – one receiving personalized, multi-domain intervention through coaching and another serving as the control group with no coaching.
Before the study commenced, participants collaborated with health coaches to identify and choose specific risk factors they aimed to improve. Over a two-year period, they engaged in regular sessions with their coaches to monitor and discuss progress towards their goals.
Results indicated a 74% improvement in cognitive test scores for the intervention group compared to the control group. Additionally, the coached participants experienced a 145% improvement in dementia risk factors and an 8% increase in overall quality of life.
Lead investigator Kristine Yaffe, M.D., emphasized the significance of this personalized approach, stating, “This is the first personalized intervention, focusing on multiple areas of cognition, in which risk factor targets are based on a participant’s risk profile, preferences, and priorities.” Yaffe believes this tailored approach may be more effective than traditional one-size-fits-all strategies.
Experts not directly involved in the study shared insights on cognitive coaching. Dr. Suhail Rasool, director of the neurology research group at TrueBinding, highlighted the ‘use it or lose it’ theory supporting brain training.
Dr. Joseph Antoun, CEO of L-Nutra Inc., discussed the potential benefits of coupling brain coaching with other strategies like exercise, nutrition, and quality sleep.
Heather M. Snyder, VP of medical and scientific relations for the Alzheimer’s Association, acknowledged the promise of lifestyle and behavioral interventions, citing the Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (FINGER).
However, some experts cautioned against potential limitations. Jessica Caldwell, director of the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement Prevention Center at Cleveland Clinic, mentioned the potential cost and duration of coaching, emphasizing the importance of long-term health changes. Caldwell also emphasized the need for individuals to consult with a doctor before making significant lifestyle changes.
While the study shows promising results for personalized health and lifestyle coaching in reducing Alzheimer’s risk, experts stress the need for further research, especially to test the generalizability and sustainability of these findings across diverse populations.
As the field progresses, the hope is to manage Alzheimer’s similar to cardiovascular disease, combining risk-reduction strategies with targeted drugs.
In the face of Alzheimer’s, the emphasis remains on taking control of health and wellness. Living well with Alzheimer’s may involve early interventions, and experts believe that a holistic approach, including coaching, could play a vital role in preventing cognitive decline and enhancing overall well-being.